FRANKEL AT 35: VISA GROWS TO LIKE SHOP'S CREATIVE ABILITY TO STRETCH

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Jan Soderstrom

Exec VP, Visa International

One of the main things that's special about Frankel is the agency's people and their loyalty to their organization. You can tell that the people who work there love being part of Bud Frankel's company. So there's continuity over the years. We've had the same account manager from the very beginning, more than 10 years ago. Joanne Bell Cascio, [senior VP-director of client services], the woman responsible for winning the business then, is still our main contact today.

Over the years, Bud Frankel and his people have spent a lot of time traveling here to consult with us. Then, a few years ago, they set up an office here in San Francisco primarily to be close to us.

One of things that distinguishes the agency is their creativity. They don't have one-size-fits-all solutions for promotions. They stretch. Their creative people spend lots of time with us to understand our business, always looking for new twists. I'm very pleased with their ability to constantly generate new ideas.

The very first program they created for us was one of our most effective campaigns, and we still use this idea throughout our business. The campaign, called "Our Treat," was a sweepstakes with a twist: Every time you used your Visa card, your transaction was eligible to win whatever amount was charged. We selected transactions at random, and those people received that purchase free. (It was credited to their account.) There also was a kicker: One person would be selected for the grand prize-$1 million in purchases.

That campaign allowed us to have thousands of winners, and it encouraged people to use their Visa cards. It also had great PR value. And our banks (which actually have the relationships with our cardholders) were able to look like heroes. We customized all the prize notification letters so they appeared to come from the banks.

We repeated that promotion several years in a row, until we came up with another idea a rewards program that gave tangible benefits based on Visa purchases. We kept track of each cardholder's spending and awarded points toward discount credits. The campaign was themed to different ideas. Sometimes cardholders got credits toward vacation travel, sometimes toward items related to spring household remodeling. This campaign brought good results as well.

Another important quality exhibited by Frankel is their willingness to work as a team with our other agencies. In fact, they push this practice. They know their piece of the integrated marketing picture, and they're pro-active about dealing with our other providers. We don't have to initiate contacts, they do. They've become friendly with our ad agency, BBDO Worldwide, and they've helped integrate

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